The skinny on Skins

Skins.tv

If you are a student of American culture, you have undoubtedly heard about the new MTV adaptation of the British show Skins. If not, you probably should. For better or worse, MTV drives a lot of the teen and pre-teen culture, despite the best efforts of American parents to control or ignore the exposure to their kids. It’s just gonna happen, so you should be tuned in.

CNN had a segment on this morning about Skins. In typical fashion, they showed brief clips of some racy, provocative footage and cut to a psychologist answering prepared and banal question about how this is “kiddie porn” and why it should scare parents. Then he went on to offer solutions to parents, mostly amounting to “turn the tv off, control the remote” as more footage ran in the background. All neatly wrapped up in 4:45 minutes.

Yeah, and just say no and don’t have sex.

Kids will be kids and as a parent, if you don’t think any of this is going on behind your back, you are seriously delusional. Moreover, if you believe you can control your kids behavior with a remote, you really do have your head in the sand. My issue with Skins and that genre of reality is far more basic.

Skins (and reality tv) is highly edited to show a glamorous and accelerated view of life. Life does not move that fast nor does it have cuts. It moves in real time. I think it sets false expectations of even faster immediate gratification in teens.

The second issue I have is the shows never show the real down sides of the decisions the kids make. It is a life of privilege without responsibility. Someone else pays the cell phone bill, the rent, the clothes. Someone else cleans up the mess unless the “mess” is the catalyst for the plot.

That is what parents need to hone in on. Your kids will watch Skins, the Real World, Housewives, 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom and other shows of that ilk. It’s part of their collective conversation.

As I turn to my private focus group to validate my observations, they shrug and say, “it’s just TV. That doesn’t happen in real life.” Maybe as MTV gets more and more provocative, kids will tune out more and recognize the programming for what it is; a desperate cry for attention from mass media and advertisers.

But they’ll still watch.

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Insurance companies should fear people like Dr. Dave Ores more than any health care reform bill

Villager photo by Bonnie Rosenstock
Villager photo by Bonnie Rosenstock

While the politicians in Washington argue about how many uninsured people there really are, call each other liars and debate over eleventh-hour amendments, real people with real lives are not waiting around for some edict to determine their destiny. They get fed up, roll up their sleeves and get the job done themselves. And that is exactly with Dr. Dave Ores is doing.

Dr. Dave (as he in known locally) formalized his care for workers in the restaurant industry by founding the Restaurant Workers’ Health Care Cooperative. The healthcare cooperative is “an informal handshake” between the doctor and the participating restaurants. It is a not for profit health care delivery system that enables restaurant owners to provide health care to their employees, many of whom can not afford traditional insurance.

[What I’m doing] “should not be special, it should not be great. It should be the way things work,” Ores says in his CNN interview aired yesterday morning.

We agree. Health care should be not for-profit. When the profit is removed from health care, the measurement becomes “how well did we treat someone” verses “how much money did we make per patient.”

Dr. Dave is proving you don’t need to be rich or famous to change the world. You just need to care enough to get off your butt and do something for another human being, without expectation of reward. No big change ever happened without first being one small act, followed by another and another and another by someone who refused to give up.

Here is what CNN ran yesterday.

We found this photo published on the New York Daily News and had to include it. Apparently, Dr. Dave also founded the Eastminster Kennel Club Show, a spoof on the Westminster Dog Show. We knew there was another really cool reason we liked Dr. Dave! He is a dog person. (I wonder if he has a photo of Abe Lincoln in his office. That would complete the trifecta of a cool sit-com.)

Screen shot 2009-11-15 at 8.00.26 AM

I know nothing, but let me tell you about it anyway

Few things make me more upset than “journalists” who have no knowledge of the facts of a story, write about it or get on television, answering phantom questions about hypoteticals. Then the anchor or host treats their answers like they relate to the story at hand. Then they guide the reader or listener through the “facts” of a story based on the answers to these hypothetical questions as if they are relevant. Unless you are paying attention and reject the entire story when this occurs, you will get the facts of the story all wrong. Is it any wonder Americans are so ill-informed about so much?

The latest example of this type of “journalism” can be found right here in my local newspaper, the Dayton Daily News. Not only does the writer start by asserting an unsubstantiated “fact” (…dying from [a seizure] is rare) but early in the article she states:

Medical specialists who did not treat the boy told The Associated Press on Tuesday that while Kawasaki syndrome is poorly understood, it’s extremely unlikely the disease had anything to do with the teen’s death.

Let me repeat: “medical specialist who did not treat the boy told…” And, AP, why are you lapping this up? What kind of journalism institution are you anyway?

And now, we have Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the worst offender of them all*, slated for the Surgeon General. Has he not done enough damage with his glib, over-arching generalizations of the American health care scene at CNN? I’m sure Dr. Gupta is a competent doctor, but it is unethical and immoral to lead people down a path that is so generic as to be dangerous to their health. Whatever you believe about Dr. Gupta’s competence, his words have weight.

I attribute this “fact-filling” as a desperate attempt by media to be the first on the scene and to fill 24/7 airtime with breaking news stories. Here is a bit of advice from the the old school: If you have nothing to say on the matter, just shut up before you start sounding like an idiot.

*No, I have no supporting evidence he is the worst, but go to YouTube and sift through the video.

The election is not about race

Sure, Barack Obama is African-American and yes, he is the first black president of the United States of America and that is historic. But, he is also a really smart man who knows how to inspire greatness in others and instill dreams that people act on instead of just wishing and praying.

Obama was elected because he could inspire a nation to act, because he enabled us to see a brighter future that was not built on hate, war or fear.

Obama was elected because ultimately, Americans want to be ethical, brave, smart, gracious, humble, proud and smart. We want to be able to see the World and be liked and respected; not because our military can bomb the crap out of any other, but because we have earned respect by giving mutual respect. Because we have developed our talents, skills, hearts and minds to their maximum capactity, knowing that capacity is limitless.

And then we give them away freely, knowing that even if they don’t come back to us, they at least make the world a better place.

That is the real wealth that needs to spread around.

Arrianna Huffington writes in her blog:

Obama’s victory holds up a mirror, reflecting the country we are. And it turns out to be the kind of country we’ve always imagined ourselves being — even if in the last seven-plus years we fell horribly short: a young country, an optimistic country, a forward-looking country, a country not afraid to take risks or to dream big.

Let me put it another way. I wish I were the person my dog thinks I am. Today, America, you are. Let’s hope you remain.

To ignore the generations of African-Americans who paved the road ahead for Obama would be a mistake. But, to attribute Obama’s win to his race would be an even greater one. That being said, CNN and MSNBC, please stop propping up black people as pundits simply because they are black. That no more qualifies them to comment than does Palin’s foreign policy experience based on her proximity to Russia.

This country wants to be smart, hopeful and happy once again. Media, start leading again! Reject the format of arguing know-nothing pundits and journalist wanna-bees and let’s start having serious conversations around real issues. The country is changing and growing up. Stay in step.

And Malia and Sasha when you go to pick up that new puppy, please go to the Humane Society and pick out a mutt. They make the best kind of dog, especially the skinny ones whose ears are a little uneven and stick out just a little bit more than they should.

We dogs keep getting more press!! From the press!!

Paul Begala, political commentator for CNN, writes this article on The Huffington Post. He ends with:

The real debate is over whether the media will be vigilant watchdogs, sounding the alarm when McCain and Palin lie, or fall back to the role they’ve played for most of McCain’s career: lapdog.

I love all these recent references to dogs in this election! Maybe the journalist who said “..all (newspaper) readers care about are puppy dogs…” during the Sam Zell F**K You! video was just dead-on accurate!

Averaging averages

Spend a weekend watching the news on TV. I did and here is what I conclude.

  • News anchors are really, really stupid and shallow people.
  • No news we like means we’ll just make up news
  • There can only be 3-5 news stories on TV at any one time, REGARDLESS of how many news channels you have in your cable package. Really???
  • Pundits spend their time commenting on comments that were made by people who commented on comments that other people may or may not have said or commented on what somebody else said … isn’t that like averaging averages???

And who the hell needs pundits, anyway. Most of them really have no clue what they are really talking about. They just like being on TV and being called on night or day for their “expertise” because it makes them feel important. For example, Ted Kennedy has a couple of seizures. Who does CNN trot out to fill them in? Dr. Sanjay Gupta. What??? He spends most of his time speculating on what kind of seizure Kennedy might have had and could have had and the prognosis of stuff that may not be true and the long-term effects of stuff that may have happened. Dr. Gupta is an expert at ANYTHING remotely medical. Wow! He must be the smartest man alive!

*HOWWWWWWWLLLL* Is there just not that much news elsewhere??

Read, think, don’t draw conclusions from headlines alone. I’m just a dog and even I know that a headline is just a “hook” to get you into the story, not the story itself. And whatever you do, if you don’t know what you are talking about, keep your mouth shut and your ears open. God made those organs at a 2:1 ratio for a damn good reason.

And don’t be arguing with God. He is the original pundit and the only one who really knows what he is talking about. 🙂 CNN should call him (or her, I don’t really know) on slow news days.

Party? What party?

I was settling in and almost asleep when some idiot on CNN was railing on and on about how this Clinton/Obama race is tearing the party apart, that it is bad for the Democrats, that they need to heal together to win the election in November. And, then as I hit that level of rage between annoyance at being kept awake and the dread of some human idiot won’t ever shut up, I got an epiphany!

Here is what CNN, MSNBC, Fox and all the other media is missing that the American people know:

The job of President of the United States of America is held by one PERSON, not by a PARTY. Nobody cares about the Democratic Party any more. Americans want the best PERSON to win the election, even if the two people running against each other for the job are members of the same party!

If anything comes of this, I hope it is the death of the two-party system. Against any of the two Hillary or Barack, McCain looks like a really, really old guy who can’t remember his name. But, Barack vs Hillary, that is a clash of Titans! THAT is a race to watch and people just don’t really want this one to end.

I sure hope the loser of the Democratic primary runs as an independent. Either way, Hillary or Barack would win this thing, whether as an independent or a Democrat. Choke on that, Howard Dean!

Ok, Colbert is on now… that’s a much quieter (boring) show and I’m curling up and taking a snooze.

Now you can listen to the podcast in Rufus’ own voice.. really!!

Political endorsements from Rufus

Rufus is pretty apolitical, but this election year, he has expressed some opinions on our walks. On the one hand, he is a black dog and feels pressure from CNN, Fox and all the other news people to support Obama. On the other hand, he is a dog and Hillary sometimes speaks in frequencies that only dogs can hear.

What to do, what to do. He has heard from both camps requesting — nay, begging — for his endorsement. He is one torn puppy. He may endorse; he may not. Huckabee is actually looking pretty good with all that IRS abolition talk….